Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Time To Tie Flies - A Retro Fly Revisted

Years ago, before the emerger entered the fly fishing language, we had a simple group that represented the aquatic insect stage: the nymph, the wet fly and the dry fly. I'll center the discussion on the second in the group.

Decades ago the fly fishing catalogs had pages of wet flies. Many of the offerings were real throwbacks to early 20th century brook trout patterns which were probably the first "attractor" patterns - gaudy, bright creations that didn't resemble any insect but caught gullible trout. But there were others that had the color, shape and profile to give a passable representation of a natural insect. And they caught trout, lots of trout!!!! Now the catalogs are empty of them. Some have said that their use is beneath us. Use an emerger, it's more scientific! But there is a time and place for the old patterns and one pattern is the Millers Sedge.

No, it's not an old pattern since I concocted it about a dozen years ago. It's created to represent a caddis fly drifting through fast choppy water. The wet fly wing gives it an easily seen profile and the colors shout "caddis" although it can be used during a number of larger mayfly hatches.

Hook - Mustad wet fly size 10 - 12 (I said it was a retro fly. That's why the Mustad hook!)

Body - olive, yellow, brown or dark orange dubbing. The orange works especially when the pumpkin caddis are doing their thing.

Hackle - brown grizzly. I take those useless black/white grizzly capes, split them down the middle and dye them a useful color. Brown is one of them.

Tail - same as the hackle if you want to add one.

Wing - A wide but short slip(s) of turkey wing (matched). Now, if you are under 40 years old this part will drive you crazy because the wing wants to separate when tied in. Back in the day we knew the tricks to prevent this but a short cut is to apply some clear glue to the non shiny side of the feathers.

I've swung this fly from the Kempfield Section down to the Bridge Street Pool on the Millers for years. It still works even on those intelligent browns.

Good Luck!



Jo Tango said...

Hi Ken, I recall that you often fish both sub-surface and dries with your 3 wt. My question is: do you have the same leader you use for both?

When I fish, I use an extra long home-made leader for Euro-style nymphing, ending in a 6x or 7x. It is about 15' and is tapered. The same leader works well with streamers. However, I don't have enough experience with fishing dries at the Y Pool and whether that same leader will work well.

Your thoughts?

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Try not to get toooo caught up in the leader setup argument. The czechs and the poles use short leaders. The French like 15-20ft leaders and the Spanish like them up to 30 ft. The funny thing is they all fish the same kind of water and they all catch fish.

There is no need for 15ft or longer leaders on the rivers that I write about. There is a need on lake/pond trout fishing but on the EB, Millers or the Swift it is overkill and will cause line management problems. If you want to use long leaders then use a Tenkara rod.

I fish 9.5ft to 12ft leaders. My 9.5 leader will start at 4x or 5x depending on the size of fly that I'm using. In heavy Spring flows I've used 5ft of 4x with a full sinking line. I would never fish a streamer on 6x or 7x unless I was fishing a size 18 streamer(lol). Fly size determines tippet size and that is mostly the case for surface fishing.

I'll buy a 5x leader and loop on a length of 6x after cutting off a foot of the 5x tippet. The same happens from 6x to 7x. This is the closest that I get to building leaders which to me is just another thing to go wrong.